HIPAA Compliance for Dental Practices and Their Business Associates

HIPAA

For almost 20 years since the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) came into existence, the health care industry has had to deal with increasingly complex layers of regulations. Dental practices are acutely affected by HIPAA, namely by the recently added rule that holds a dental practice responsible for the security procedures of any company or individual it does business with.

With the increasing complexity of regulation and the huge possible fines for noncompliance, many dental practices find that working with a third-party company that is already an expert on HIPAA compliance is the the best way to stay in compliance. Below I have given an overview of the issues, and shown why working with a company like J.J. Micro LLC IT Consulting can eliminate the fear of HIPAA compliance for your practice.

BASIC HIPAA REQUIREMENTS

The HIPAA Privacy Rule, effective since 2003, is probably familiar to most dentists. This rule gives patients various rights regarding their protected health information (PHI). These rights include the right to change what is in their records and to limit the sharing of these records. The HIPAA Security Rule, (2005), relates to a dental practices’s management of its patients’ electronic health records (EHRs) and mandates a set of ongoing, practice wide, security protocols. These protocols include staff education, regular risk audits, secure redundant backups, email encryption, and documentation of these protocols. An Enforcement Rule (2009) and a Breach Notification Rule (2010) added more requirements regarding when the media has to be alerted to a breach and what kinds of civil penalties can be levied. As stringent as these regulations are, they seem simple to follow when compared to the HIPAA Privacy and Security Omnibus Final Ruling from January of 2013.

YOU ARE NOW RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR CONTRACTORS

The Omnibus Final Ruling strengthens and expands the regulations enacted previously. But it also adds another level of regulations that make a dental practice responsible for the security protocols of any outside entity it does business with. HIPAA calls these outside entities Business Associates. These are entities such as a collection agency, a document storage or disposal company, billing providers, and IT service providers. Every dental practice must keep on file a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) that outlines who is allowed to be in contact with protected health information (PHI) and what is allowed to be done with that information. If a dental practice were to give a 3rd party access to PHI without a BAA in place, the practice will be liable for any non-compliance penalties.

LET AN EXPERT HANDLE YOUR INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY HIPAA COMPLIANCE

You’re dedicated to providing the best possible care for your patients. This probably takes up the vast majority of your time. With an already busy work schedule, why spend time trying to be your own IT manager. As time goes on, privacy and security laws will only continue to become more complex. Let J.J. Micro LLC IT Consulting stay abreast of the changing state of HIPAA compliance regulations and leave you and your staff to what you do best, caring for patients. Contact J.J. Micro today to schedule a free HIPAA compliance checkup. We will help you develop a plan to become compliant and then keep you in compliance going forward.

For more specifics on the ways J.J. Micro will help you become HIPAA compliant, read our article on HIPAA compliance IT recommendations

And here is more information about HIPAA compliance from the American Dental Association. 

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